Martinsburg, W.Va. -- Recruiting is a time consuming job. Marines on recruiting duty wake up early, arrive at their office around 7 a.m., and if they are lucky they might go home around 8 p.m. Many of them work these long hours Monday through Saturday with just enough time to kiss their wife or husband, play with their children and get some sleep before starting another day’s work.
Sgt. Edward Alsip, a recruiter with Recruiting Sub-Station Martinsburg, Recruiting Station Frederick, is no exception when it comes to this grueling schedule. He rarely gets to see his wife, who is stationed more than an hour away. He has a daughter, and another baby Alsip is on the way. Being a recruiter and family man are time consuming enough, but Alsip spends any spare time he has left ensuring children receive toys for Christmas.
Alsip, 26, from Fairfield, Ohio, has found satisfaction in helping others by volunteering with the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program in Martinsburg, W. Va.
According to www.toysfortots.org, “The mission of the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.”
The site said that in 1995, the Secretary of Defense approved Toys for Tots as an official activity of the U. S. Marine Corps and an official mission of the Marine Corps Reserve.
Since it was established, the program has distributed more than 469 million toys to approximately 216 million less fortunate children.
Although we are months from Christmas, and Christmas in July has passed, Alsip is always collecting toys and donations. His involvement with Toys for Tots started November 2012 and just never stopped.
“I haven’t really quit the season. I still have toys in my trunk, I’ve been holding on to them until the warehouse is open,” said Alsip.
Many people believe Toys for Tots happens in December but for the civilians and Marines behind the scenes that is not the case.
Scott Stulb, a Toys for Tots representative, was more than happy to explain how Recruiting Sub-Station Martinsburg helps anyway they can.
“They are in the trenches, I mean in the trenches! It’s not just showing up and putting blues on,” said Stulb. “They spend time sorting toys, standing at collection points and handling calls from the community regarding collection points year-round. This summer Alsip had the opportunity to really grow the program in the Eastern Panhandle.”
Stulb, as an active member in the Martinsburg community, had the opportunity to join Alsip with the Shiley Acres Summer Concert Series hosted and owned by Greg Shiley of Martinsburg, W. Va. Shiley worked closely with Alsip to use the concert series to raise money and promote awareness.
“This is the first year they worked with Toys for Tots,” said Alsip. Shiley allows Alsip time to get on stage to talk about the program and encourage people to donate. They also organize a day where all proceeds from admission go to Toys for Tots. Leading by example, Alsip attends each event and encourages his junior Marines to participate with this long-running charity.
Alsip is not shy when it comes to getting on a stage in front of 5,000 people and asking for the support of the community.
“I just get up there and talk. It’s important for public exposure,” said Alsip. “It’s important to let people know that the program is available, and it means a lot to these kids on Christmas.”
Alsip is humble when speaking about how he fostered such an important relationship in his community.
“We (Alsip and Shiley) met over the concert series but our relationship grew, and it’s about a mutual purpose. It’s about getting that kid one or two toys,” he said.
How does one human find time to recruit future Marines, support a family and volunteer?
“I guess it comes back to how I grew up. I feel like the environment I grew up in, I didn’t get these opportunities,” Alsip said. “Toys are not just things to play with, they broaden kids’ minds. They inspire. I want to make sure these kids get that opportunity.”
The next step in the Toys for Tots mission this season is to secure a 10 to 20,000 square foot warehouse and start filling it up, said Stulb.
These men are hoping to serve 7,500 children. Alsip will work hard to help anyway he can and hopes to help during the toy distribution this year.
To donate to the program, go to http://www.toysfortots.org/donate/toys.aspx. Click the state drop down menu to select your state, and follow the instructions.